A Nigerian pastor claims military forces are turning a blind eye as violence towards Christians continue to escalate across the nation.
Pastor John, from Plateau State says he was in a prayer meeting when his village came under attack by Fulani militants. Nigerian soldiers, who were stationed next to the town refused to protect them, according to John.
“The military; we were calling on them to come and help us, with the police. What they told us clearly was that their hands were tied, that they would not be able to do anything, because they were not being given commands from the government,” he told persecution charity Release International.
“In fact the [militants] were killing some people in front of the military, who were not doing anything.”
Pastor John and the others from the village believe the attack was religiously motivated as the shooters were allegedly heard chanting “Allahu Akbar” – a Muslim phrase meaning ‘God is the greatest.’
“We knew this is Islamic Jihad coming to attack us,’ John added.
Over the past two decades Christians in the nation have faced increasing persecution, with thousands losing their lives and more being forced to flee their homes as a result of Islamic militants and jihadist groups. The United Nations Refugee Agency reports that over three million people have fled as a result of insurgency and conflict.
A recent report from Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need found that more Christians are killed in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world.
The Archbishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi, is a partner of Release International.
He calls himself a “grieving pastor”. He says he’s done more funerals in the last 20 years than naming ceremonies, or weddings put together.
He warns that this violence is “happening under the nose of a federal government” and has called on new President, Bola Tinubu to intervene to prevent a refugee crisis.
“Christians are going to run out of this country. They’re going to leave – in droves. They will not wait for the persecution that will happen.”
Release International is launching a three-month prayer campaign for Christians in Nigeria.
The 'Out of these Ashes' campaign will offer churches information and stories to help focus their prayers.
‘Across north and central Nigeria attacks on predominantly Christian villages are taking place with shocking frequency,’ commented Release International CEO Paul Robinson.
‘Militants are destroying homes and burning churches. They have killed thousands and forced tens of thousands to flee. What we are witnessing is religious and ethnic cleansing aimed at eradicating Christians and seizing their land.
‘The situation is underreported in the mainstream media and the Nigerian government seems powerless to intervene.’
‘We are calling Christians in the UK to commit to praying for Nigeria and its Christian population.’